Italy asks UEFA to block tickets for Euro 2020 quarter final over concerns that England fans could break quarantine rules in Rome.
European football's governing body UEFA has cancelled all tickets sold in recent days to English fans resident in the UK ahead of the Euro 2020 quarter-final clash between England and Ukraine in Rome this weekend.
The move by UEFA - at the behest of Italian authorities - comes amid concerns that UK residents will attempt to travel to Rome and defy the five-day quarantine rules for UK visitors under Italy's covid-19 restrictions.
The extreme measures, described by the Italian interior ministry as a "specific ticketing policy," are designed to reduce the spread of the highly-contagious Delta virus variant currently on the rise in the UK.
It is not known how many tickets have been blocked or cancelled.
A UEFA spokesperson said the Italian authorities "have specifically asked UEFA to cancel tickets sold to UK residents as of 28 June, stopping sales and transfers as of 21.00 this evening [Thursday]."
Those who bought their tickets as of 28 June were given the chance to "transfer their tickets to Italian residents by 21.00 or return their tickets.”
In recent days British authorities have urged England fans not to travel from the UK to Rome, calling on supporters to watch the game on television instead.
Prime minister Boris Johnson said on BBC Radio4: "Certainly those of us who are in the UK who aren’t able to travel will be cheering so loudly our team will hear us in Rome.”
Authorities in Italy have also told England supporters in the UK to think twice about trying to get to Rome using travel loopholes, warning there will be "no exceptions" and that quarantine violations will be punished.
The blocking of tickets is the latest twist in a saga that has been left England fans grappling with disappointment, confusion and poor communication over the ticketing policy for the match in the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday night.
There have also been reports of tickets for the quarter-final clash selling on the internet for extortionate prices ever since England defeated Germany 2-0 in Wembley on Tuesday night.
Meanwhile police in Italy are carrying out widespread checks at airports, train stations and motorways as well as patrolling nightlife areas in the capital, reports Italian news agency ANSA.
Italy's mandatory five-day quarantine is applied to all those arriving from the UK - including anyone who has stayed or passed through the UK in the previous 14 days - together with the requirement to present a negative covid test within 48 hours of arriving in Italy and again five days after arrival.
The British embassy in Rome has also drawn attention to the UK government’s travel advice which "clearly states that fans should not travel to red and amber countries to protect public health in the UK from new Covid variants."
The capacity at the Stadio Olimpico has been reduced to just 16,000 seats, due to Italy's coronavirus restrictions, with the England-Ukraine match due to kick off at 21.00 on 3 July in front of England fans already resident in Italy.
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